Dec 11, 2022 - Science

NASA's Orion capsule is back on Earth after journey around the Moon

Orion coming back to Earth. Photo: NASA TV

NASA's Orion spacecraft is back on Earth after its flight around the Moon.

Why it matters: The uncrewed capsule's splashdown in the Pacific brings the space agency's first Artemis mission to a successful end, testing out some of the technology needed to one day send people to the surface of the Moon.

Driving the news: Orion splashed down under its parachutes in the ocean at about 12:39pm ET.

  • The capsule successfully executed its "skip entry" return to Earth by skimming the planet's upper atmosphere, skipping back out and then re-entering, coming down under parachutes.
  • "The latest chapter in NASA's journey back to the surface of the Moon comes to a close," NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said during the webcast of the splashdown. "Orion is back on Earth."

The big picture: NASA could send people back to the lunar surface as soon as 2025, but its next Artemis mission will see a crew of astronauts circle the Moon before coming back to Earth.

  • Before people can land on the Moon, however, companies partnering with NASA will need to deliver a lunar lander and spacesuits for use on the Moon.
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